Theology of the Body for Teens


Locus Benedictus
Greenwood, MS
Friday, Aug 5, 6:00pm-
Saturday, Aug 6, 9:00pm

Theology of the Body for Teens is an exciting and dynamic program based on St John Paul II’s revolutionary Theology of the Body being offered to High School teens at Locus Benedictus in Greenwood, MS. This program will give teens the answers and the tools they need to successfully and safely navigate through life..
Contact Tara Trost at 662.515.9126 for more information.
Deadline to register is July 24.

Durocher Summer School draws volunteers

JONESTOWN – For a month every summer, young people in Jonestown have an opportunity to attend the Durocher Summer School, a combination of fun and academics run entirely by volunteers.
Sister Kay Burton, SNJM, has organized the school for the past four years. This year’s session ran from June 6 – July 1.
The students are going into grades six, seven, and eight in local schools. The teachers for session one – the first two weeks – are high school volunteers from Jonestown. The teachers for session two are high school volunteers from Holy Names Academy, Seattle. Wash., and from Jonestown. Holy Names Academy is run by Sister Burton’s order, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
In addition to tutoring in all school subjects, the children get to follow a theme and participate in fun activities such as swimming and music.
This year’s theme was all about the blues. Students got to take a day trip to the BB King Museum in Indianola to put some of their lessons into context. They also got guitar lessons and wrote and produced a play about the blues legend from the Delta.
Sister Burton has been developing volunteer programs, especially focused in education, for many years in Jonestown. Her efforts include seeking young people to staff the summer school and other educational programs. She also coordinates a volunteer-run community garden. She works on health issues as well, helping get a walking trail opened in the community and educating people about good health and exercise.
Finally, Sister Kay works with young women in the community, forming groups to discuss issues of concern to them, helping them build confidence and self-esteem.
Sister Burton said she is grateful for all the community members to help make Summer School a success.

Mass to close Fortnight for Freedom honors heroes

By Mark Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The theme for the 2016 Fortnight for Freedom, “Witnesses to Freedom,” unfolded as 1,500 people spent part of their July 4 holiday in Washington attending the observance’s closing Mass and venerating the relics of two English saints martyred in 1535 for their Catholic faith.
The Mass and veneration took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. After the Mass, people waited in a long line to kneel and pray before the relics of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More displayed near the altar.
Welcoming the congregation, Msgr. Walter Rossi, the shrine’s rector, said those filling what is the largest Catholic church in North America offered “testimony that the freedom to live our lives according to our faith is fundamental to the life of believers.”
The U.S. Catholic Church’s fifth annual Fortnight for Freedom closing Mass included the participation of three of the petitioners in a recent Supreme Court case challenging the federal contraceptive mandate. They contended that the requirement violated their religious freedom by forcing Catholic institutions to provide employee health insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are prohibited by church teaching.
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, whose archdiocese and affiliated agencies challenged the mandate, was the main celebrant at the Mass. The homilist was Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik, whose diocese also opposed the Health and Human Services contraceptive coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act.
The consolidated case that was before the Supreme Court, Zubik v. Burwell, is named for the bishop and for Sylvia Burwell, who is HHS secretary. A group of Little Sisters of the Poor – whose religious order also challenged the mandate – sat in a pew near the front of the congregation and received a long standing ovation at the end of the Mass.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, was a concelebrant at the Mass. Along with Bishop Zubik, other concelebrants included Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio and Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Washington; and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, the USCCB’s general secretary.
In his homily, Bishop Zubik commended the congregation for standing together and praying for religious freedom “on this 240th anniversary of our freedom in our United States,” dating back to the Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776.
He noted that just as footnotes in a term paper solidify the accuracy and strengthen the message of a point being made, “you and I are called to be footnotes, footnotes to the truth who is Jesus Christ himself.”
Catholics are called to be witnesses to Jesus and to be a living sign of his truth, the bishop said, adding that for some, that witness takes the form of martyrdom.
Bishop Zubik said “our ancestors in the faith” demonstrate what it means to be a footnote to Jesus’ truth, and then be witnesses and sometimes martyrs. He pointed to St. John the Baptist, who was beheaded when he refused to give in to political power.
Pittsburgh’s bishop praised the example of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, a layman and a bishop, respectively, as witnesses and martyrs who “would not yield supremacy of power over faith, even to the king.”
Both men refused to accept Parliament’s Act of Supremacy, which had declared that King Henry VIII was head of the Church of England. Both were imprisoned for treason in the Tower of London for months. They were beheaded 14 days apart in 1535; Bishop Fisher was 65, More was 57.
The relic of St. John Fisher was a ring that had belonged to him. The relics of St. Thomas More were a piece of his jawbone and one half of a tooth. The national shrine was the last stop of the tour for the relics, which earlier been displayed in Miami, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
In his homily, Bishop Zubik also highlighted the heroic example of other martyrs, including St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan friar who gave up his life for another man in 1941 at the Auschwitz concentration camp, and Blessed Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran archbishop and champion of the poor who was shot in the heart while celebrating Mass in 1980. Bishop Zubik also praised the witness of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants on a beach in Libya in 2015.
Bishop Zubik noted that the Little Sisters of the Poor in their service to the elderly poor and in their stand for religious freedom “are carrying the banner that we will not back off the truth that is Jesus Christ.”
He noted that the nation’s forefathers put forth religious liberty as the first freedom in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, giving people the freedom “to worship our God as the source of our strength, and also to “live our faith outside our churches, synagogues and mosques.”
Bishop Zubik concluded his homily by encouraging people to “pray that we may build on our ancestors of faith and our ancestors in our country and be witnesses to religious freedom.” That witness involves praying, speaking out and acting on behalf of religious freedom, and living that freedom, he said.
The intercessions included a prayer that the president, judges and lawmakers will uphold religious freedom and protect the conscience rights of all people, and that religious-sponsored educational, healthcare and charitable outreach programs will be free to fulfill their mission.
Cardinal Wuerl read a prayer for government written in 1791 by Baltimore Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the new United States.
In remarks after Communion, Archbishop Lori said he hoped the saints’ relics venerated that day “will spur all of us on to cherish, protect and use wisely the gift of freedom.” He thanked dioceses, parishes and individual Catholics for their activities during the Fortnight for Freedom, which ran from June 21 – the vigil of the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More – to July 4. Archbishop Lori had celebrated the fortnight’s opening Mass in Baltimore at the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Archbishop Lori also encouraged people to pray daily for religious freedom and to use that freedom to spread the Gospel, especially the works of mercy, and to stand in solidarity with persecuted people around the world.
People entering the national shrine by its main doors could see a 30-by-50-foot U.S. flag draped from the Knights’ Tower, which was provided by the Knights of Columbus. The Mass concluded on a patriotic note, with the singing of “America the Beautiful.”
The fortnight’s closing Mass was telecast live by the Eternal Word Television Network and also appeared on CatholicTV.
(Zimmermann is editor of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.)


AMORY St. Helen Parish, book discussion of “Them Bones” by Carolyn Haines, Monday, July 11, at noon in the parish Hall.
CHATAWA St. Mary of the Pines, ninth annual “Speak Lord I’m Listening” retreat for men and women using the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Friday-Sunday, July 29-31. Led by Father Bill Henry.
CORINTH St. James Parish, adults study, “Unlocking the Mysteries of the Bible,” Wednesdays, July 20 and 27, at 2:30 p.m.
– Sundays, prayer of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 10:30 a.m.
GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph Parish, Father Gaitley’s “33 Days to Morning Glory,” starts July 12 and continues for five sessions on Tuesdays, from 10-11:30 a.m. Sign-up sheets are in the church foyer. Details: Eileen Keller, 601-345-7005.
GREENWOOD – Life in the Spirit Seminar, “Take the grace of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit into the heart of the church,” Saturday, Aug. 20, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Locus Benedictus Retreat Center, 1407 Levee Road,  Speakers are: Father Bill Henry, Camille Leatherman, Ann Leatherman, Mark Davis, Mike and Charlene Brown. Details: Magdalene Abraham, 662- 299-1232.
GRENADA St. Peter Parish, new time for the rosary and benediction, 7 p.m. on Sundays. The rosary is also prayed on Saturdays at 5:15 p.m.
JACKSON St. Richard Parish, “Putting it all together,” a DVD series titled “Divine Mercy” featuring Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in Foley Hall. Details: Suzan Cox, 601-366-2335.
– “Catholics Come Home,” a four-week program to explore returning to the church, beginning Thursday, Aug. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in Foley Hall, 1242 Lynnwood Drive. A nursery will be provided upon request. Details: 601-366-2335 ext. 107
– Old Testament class, Tuesdays, Sept. 6-Oct. 11.

AMORY St. Helen Parish, vacation Bible school along with the children with First Presbyterian Church, July 17-19, from 5 – 8 p.m., at their Fellowship Hall.
– Hot dog/hamburger cookout, Wednesday, July 20, to close VBS. Older youth are asked to serve as counselors.
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories parishioners are invited to six sessions on loss and recovery at St. Luke United Methodist Church on Tuesdays, July 12-Aug. 16, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Led by Larry Lambert. Details: Lambert, 662-719-8756.
CORINTH St. James Parish, volunteers needed for  clean up day, Saturday, July 23, from 8:30 to noon.
COLUMBUS Annunciation School, Fine Arts Camp, July 18-22 from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. for students entering kindergarten – sixth grade. Hands-on camp focused on visual and physical arts, music and theatre. Cost is $100 for first child, $90 for each additional child. Details: Jenni Browning,
– Workday to get the campus prepared for the first day of school, Saturday, July 16, beginning at 8 a.m. Bring work gloves. Lunch will be provided.
– Columbus Back 2 School Bash, Friday, July 29, from 9 a.m. – noon at the American Legion Post #69, 308 Chubby Drive. A free community resources, book bags with supplies, fun activities and music.
GLUCKSTADT St. Joseph Parish, blood drive, Sunday, July 24, from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the parish hall.
GRENADA St. Peter Parish, blood drive, Sunday, July 24, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sign up sheets are in the vestibule.
HERNANDO Holy Spirit Parish, hangout night for young adults of Northern Mississippi, Friday, July 15, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Family Life Center. Bring a snack and a drink to share. Invite your friends, college age and up. Recent high school grads are welcome.
– Fun game night for adults, Friday, July 22, at 7 p.m. Bring your own games. Details: Liz Brown, 901-331-3419.
JACKSON St. Richard Parish, Bereavement Support Group, Thursday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. Pat Walden, parishioner and St. Dominic Hospital pastoral ministry director, will speak on “Why am I so angry and what can I do about it?” Details: Nancy McGhee, 601-942-2078,
– Meet-n-greet for Biking for Babies teams, Thursday, July 14, at 6 p.m. The Knights of Columbus will serve a spaghetti dinner. RSVP to 601-956-8636.
JACKSON St. Therese Parish, Working together Jackson meeting, Saturday, July 16, at 6 p.m. All welcome.
– Hope Credit Union visit, Sunday, July 17, after the 12:30 p.m. Spanish Mass. To help people open a bank account.
JACKSON Christ the King Parish, Senior Swingers bus trip to Blues Trail, Monday, July 11. Cost for members is $45, non-members, $50. Details: Sarah Griffin, 601-613-8017.
JACKSON St. Dominic Hospital, “Refuse to be a victim,” Thursday, Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at St. Dominic Center Complex-Toulouse.  A free workshop to learn how to create layers of safety to protect yourself and your family from today’s criminal. To register call 601-200-6698.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi Parish, a representative from Crossroads will be at the parish Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, to share information about their ministry and to ask for prayers and support. Members of Crossroads educate the youth about the pro-life movement. A group is walking more than 10,000 miles from May 21-Aug. 13.
MADISON St. Joseph School, summer cheer camp, July 18-22 from 9 a.m. – noon. Cost is $100. Register  at, select athletics and summer camps 2016. Details: Emily Toulomelis,
– Bruin Burn 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run, Saturday, July 16, beginning at 7 a.m. at St. Anthony School, 1585 Old Mannsdale Road, Madison. To register visit,
SHAW St. Francis of Assisi Parish, summer socials, cookout on Sunday, July 31, at 6 p.m. and a potluck on Sunday, Aug. 28, at noon.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King Parish, pilgrimage day, Thursday, July 28.
TUPELO St. James Parish, annual pilgrimage walk and celebration of the parish’s patron, Saturday, July 23.
– Training for new altar servers, Wednesday, July 27, at 4 p.m., Saturday, July 30, at 9 am., Wednesday, Aug 3, at 4 pm and Saturday, Aug 6, at 9 am. Servers need to attend two sessions, but can pick the time that suits them. Details: Kris Ivancic, 662-791-9643.
YAZOO CITY St. Mary Parish, catechist appreciation lunch, Sunday, July 17, following the 10:30 a.m. Mass in the parish hall.
– City-wide revival for Yazoo City, July 11-15 at McCoy Elementary School. Bishop Edward Duku of South Africa will be joined by Pastor Dan Willis of Chicago, Ill.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Mercy Rally, “Open your hearts to the mercy of God,” July 22-23 at St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church, 601 Bell Road, Antioch, TN 37013. Sponsored by Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The Friday night session emphasizes music, praise and worship. Speakers are Dr. Scott Hahn, the Bishop of Nashville, David Choby, and Father Michael Baltrus. Cost is $50 for individuals and $80 for families. Clergy and religious can attend for free.

Pastoral Assignments

Father Thi Pham, SCJ, upon the recommendation of Bishop Edward  Kilianski, superior general for the Priests of the Sacred Heart, is appointed moderator of the pastoral team serving the parishes of Sacred Heart Southern Missions.

Father Zbigniew Morawiec, SCJ, upon the recommendation of Bishop Edward  Kilianski, superior general for the Priests of the Sacred Heart, is appointed a member of the pastoral team serving Sacred Heart Southern Missions.

Father Albert Lingwengwe, SCJ, upon the recommendation of Bishop Edward  Kilianski, superior general for the Priests of the Sacred Heart, is appointed a temporary member of the pastoral team serving Sacred Heart Southern Missions.

+Bishop Joseph Kopacz.
Bishop of Jackson

All appointments are effective July 1.

El obispo se une a esfuerzo interreligioso

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Pórtense como personas libres aunque sin usar su libertad como un pretexto para hacer lo malo. Pórtense más bien como siervos de Dios. 1 Pedro 2:16.
La complejidad del origen y desarrollo de nuestro amado país, los Estados Unidos de América, ha evolucionado ahora, 240 años desde la firma de la Declaración de Independencia, en tal diversidad de ciudadanía en este año del Señor, 2016, que, sin duda los padres y madres fundadores de esta notable nación estarían sorprendidos.
Usted no se sorprendería al saber que la mayoría de la gente con la que me relaciono son católicos, sin embargo, los casi 80 millones de católicos esparcidos alrededor de los Estados Unidos, aproximadamente el 25 por ciento de la población, reflejan la diversidad de la nación. Algunos son de la primera generación de inmigrantes; otros pueden rastrear sus orígenes antes de la primera mitad del siglo 19.
Esto no es menos cierto aquí en Mississippi. Aunque somos un porcentaje marginal de la población católica en todo el país y un pequeño porcentaje de la población del estado, somos un rico tapiz de diferencias raciales, étnicas y discípulos geográficos.
Aunque la mayor parte de mi tiempo y energía se dirige hacia nuestro mundo católico, hay significantes oportunidades que me llevan al camino ecuménico, inter-religioso y el mundo secular. Aquí encuentro y acompaño a personas de diversas creencias, o sin ninguna fe religiosa, que colaboran juntos por el bien común de la sociedad.
Un proyecto destacado ha sido la declaración titulada, “Voces contra el extremismo”. Esta edición de Mississippi Catholic incluye el texto completo. A la vanguardia de esta empresa están los miembros del Instituto del Diálogo que surgió de la necesidad de abordar la pregunta, “¿Cómo pueden los ciudadanos de todo el mundo vivir en paz y armonía? El Instituto fue establecido en el 2002 como una organización educativa sin fines de lucro (501-c-3) por Turcos-Americanos y sus amigos en el período de un año después de los ataques terroristas del 9-11. Permítanme presentarlos brevemente.
Muchos de los participantes de las actividades del instituto son inspirados por el discurso y por las iniciativas pioneras de diálogo del erudito musulmán turco, escritor y educador Fethullah Gulen. Con sede en Houston, Texas, el instituto tiene sucursales en cinco estados y representantes a través del sur-centro de los Estados Unidos. Su misión es promover el mutuo entendimiento, respeto y cooperación entre personas de diferentes religiones y culturas mediante la creación de oportunidades para la comunicación directa y significativa de experiencias compartidas.
Su visión es la de una sociedad donde cada persona considera y trata a los demás con dignidad, donde la gente comparte sus valores comunes para promover el bien común de sus comunidades y los de todo el mundo. Todos los años durante el mes de Ramadán, la comunidad musulmana turca que vive en Jackson invita a los que no son musulmanes que viven en el área de Jackson a participar en una comida al final del día de ayuno. Estos encuentros fomentan su misión y visión por la sociedad mediante la creación de amistades basadas en el conocimiento y el respeto. Estos son pequeños rayos de luz que traen esperanza al rostro de la incesante oscuridad del terrorismo y muertes injustificadas.
Consideremos lo que ha sucedido en las últimas semanas. Continuamos lamentando y tambaleándonos por la masacre ocurrida en Orlando, Florida. Pocas horas después de nuestra experiencia espiritual de Ramadán aquí en Jackson, el terrorismo golpeó el Aeropuerto Internacional Atatürk, en Estambul, Turquía.
Nuestros amigos turcos aquí en Jackson y en Starkville están afligidos por su pueblo. Lo que siguió ha sido aún peor, en su mayor parte, ataques directos al Islam por los terroristas. Un atentado en un café en Dhaka, Bangladesh, atentados con bombas en Bagdad, y una cadena de ataques suicidas contra los musulmanes en la culminación del Ramadán cuando se reunieron para orar. Incluso peregrinos musulmanes que viajaron a Medina a la tumba de Mohammed no fueron eximidos de estas agresiones.
Dos tweets en respuesta a esta pronunciación de desprecio absoluto por la vida humana y todas las cosas santas, expresan el corazón y el alma de los devotos musulmanes.
– Lo qué sucedió en una de nuestras ciudades, en nuestro más sagrado mes, no está justificado por ninguna religión. Estoy realmente devastado.
–  Un lugar que cualquier musulmán nunca se hubiera atrevido a dañar ha sido atacado. El terrorismo no tiene una religión.
Cuando nos complacemos en las celebraciones que rodean el 4 de julio, y para mí de vacaciones, que incluyen reuniones con familiares y amigos, y un Triple A juego de béisbol, seguido por una exhibición de fuegos artificiales, dos realidades acuciantes se mueven dentro de mí. Estamos obligados a cuidar y proteger nuestra forma de vida como nación, y estar agradecidos por todos lo que se han sacrificado para defenderla, especialmente con el derramamiento de su sangre.
Asimismo, tenemos la oportunidad de ser un faro para las naciones custodiando y promoviendo la unidad en medio de la asombrosa diversidad que caracteriza a nuestra nación. Somos únicos en este sentido y podemos dar ejemplo dentro de nuestras propias costas y exportando lo mejor de lo que somos al mundo mediante la educación, la buena voluntad, el respeto y el comercio que es mutuamente beneficioso, manteniendo al mismo tiempo la creación de Dios.
“Consideramos que estas verdades son evidentes por sí mismas” y oramos para promoverlas en el hogar y en nuestra aldea global. Qué podamos crecer como un pueblo católico a través de la libertad que viene a través de la fe en Jesucristo y la libertad como ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos, 240 años jóvenes.

Bishop joins interfaith effort condemning violence

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16
The complexity of the origin and development of our beloved country, the United States of America, has now evolved, 240 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, into such a diverse citizenry in this year of the Lord, 2016, that, without doubt, the Founding Fathers and Mothers of this remarkable nation would be astounded.
You would not be surprised to know that most of the people I hang around with are Catholic, yet the nearly 80 million Catholics scattered around the United States, about 25 percent of the population, mirror the nation’s diversity. Some are first generation immigrants; some can trace their roots well back into the middle of the 19th century. This is no less true here in Mississippi. Although we are a marginal percentage of the Catholic population nationwide, and a small percentage of the State’s population, we are a rich tapestry of racial, ethnic and geographical disciples.
Although most of my time and energy is directed toward our Catholic world, there are significant opportunities that take me into the ecumenical, interfaith and secular world.
Here I encounter and accompany people of diverse faiths, or no outward religious faith, who collaborate together for the common good of society. One noteworthy project has been the statement entitled, “Voices against Extremism.” Find the full text of this document on page 4 of this edition of Mississippi Catholic.
At the forefront of this undertaking are the members of the Dialogue Institute which grew out of the need to address the question, “How can citizens of the world live in peace and harmony?” The Institute was established in 2002 as a 501-c3 non-profit educational organization by Turkish-Americans and their friends within one year of the terroristic attacks of 9-11. Allow me to briefly introduce them.
Many participants of the Institute’s activities are inspired by the discourse and pioneering dialogue initiatives of the Turkish Muslim scholar, writer and educator Fethullah Gulen. Headquartered in Houston, Tex., the Institute has branch offices in five states and representatives throughout the South-Central United States. Its mission is to promote mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures by creating opportunities for direct communication and meaningful shared experiences.
Its vision is a society where every person views and treats each other with dignity, where people come around shared values to promote the common good of their communities as well as the world as a whole. Each year during the month of Ramadan, the Turkish Muslim community who live in Jackson invite non Muslim members of the Greater Jackson area to participate in a meal at dusk at the end of the daily fast. These encounters foster their mission and vision for society by building friendships based upon knowledge and respect. These are small points of light that bring hope in the face of the relentless darkness of terrorism and wanton killing.
Consider what has happened in recent weeks. We continue to grieve and reel from the massacre in Orlando. Within hours of our spiritual experience of Ramadan here in Jackson terrorism struck the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. Our Turkish friends here in Jackson and Starkville grieve for their people. What followed has been even worse and, for the most part, direct assaults upon Islam by the terrorists. An attack at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, bombings in Baghdad, and a string of suicide strikes against Muslims at the culmination of Ramadan as they gather for prayer. Even Muslim pilgrims who traveled to Medina to the tomb of Mohammed were not spared from these assaults. Two tweets in response to this utter contempt for human life and all things holy express the heart and soul of the devout Muslim.
• What happened in one of our holiest cities, in our holiest month, is not justified by any religion. I am truly devastated.
• A place that any Muslim would never DARE harm has been attacked. Terrorism doesn’t have a religion.
As we bask in the celebrations that surround the 4th of July, and for me on vacation, it involved cookouts with family and friends, and a Triple A baseball game followed by a fireworks display, two pressing realities stir within me.
We are compelled to cherish and protect our way of life as a nation, and to be grateful for all who have sacrificed to defend it, especially with the shedding of their blood. Likewise, we have the opportunity to be a beacon for the nations by cherishing and promoting unity amidst the amazing diversity that characterizes our nation.
We are unique in this regard and we can lead by example within our own shores and by exporting the best of who we are to the world through education, good will, respect and commerce that is mutually beneficial while upholding God’s creation.
“We hold these truths to be self evident” and we pray to foster them at home and throughout our global village. May we thrive as a Catholic people through the freedom that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, and the liberty as citizens of the United States, 240 years young.

Voices against extremism: Bishop Kopacz joins Dialogue Institute in statement

(Below is the full text of the statement issued by the Dialogue Institute condemning extremism in the name of religion and violence. Bishop Joseph Kopacz joined other faith leaders in signing the statement in June.)

Section 1: Statement of the Problem
Recognizing the diversity of religious beliefs and philosophical outlooks in the world community, we have come together to unite around our universal and common desire to uphold and uplift each other as neighbors and fellow human beings and to affirm and support the following statement against extremism, terror, and violence done in the name of religion.
Our global society is facing an escalating epidemic of religiously motivated violence that seeks to manipulate and control people through terror and intimidation. We speak out against all extremist groups who distort religious beliefs to inflame regimes of fear and agendas of destruction for their own self-serving purposes. We reject the use of religious and spiritual traditions to justify the abuse, oppression, and exploitation of human beings.

Section 2: The Role of Religion Regarding the Threat of Extremism
We affirm that the practice of religions at their best is to honor, respect, and love our fellow sisters and brothers as we would ourselves. We understand religious extremism to be the process whereby individuals or communities reject the civil discourse and instead use violence and terror as a means of forcing political and social change, employing religious and theological resources to justify their destructive actions.

Section 3: Fundamental Human Rights
Life, liberty, dignity, and security are fundamental human rights for every single person. No human being, or group of persons should be subjected to violence or discrimination on the basis of any physical or social distinction that is motivated and justified by religious beliefs. In this regard, all human beings should be considered as equal and free members of one human family and treated with respect and compassion.

Section 4: Response Against the Use of Violence in the Name of Religion
We affirm and advocate for fundamental human rights, as described above and as protected by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, especially in the First Amendment with regard to freedom of religion and freedom of speech, to be applied to all persons. Furthermore, no religious freedom should be misused to violate the fundamental human rights of other persons.
We affirm and believe that a free, independent, fair, and ethically responsible media is an indispensable prerequisite for a free and peaceful society. Threatening the free and unencumbered exchange of ideas through terror, violence, fear, and intimidation undermines the marketplace of ideas and denies the equal opportunity for religious communities and human life to flourish.
We affirm and encourage learning about different faith traditions and practices in all areas of society and for all persons, so that everyone can be well-informed about the history and ideas of religions, in order to have greater mutual understanding and cooperation among civically engaged citizens.
We affirm and advocate for positive religious values as an antidote to religious extremism. We seek to offer hospitality, empathy, and care to all people in order to build stronger and more open societies that celebrate all persons as being equal members of the human family.

Mercy isn’t an abstract word, it’s a way of life, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Mercy is not an abstract concept but a lifestyle that invites Christians to make an examination of conscience and ask themselves if they place the spiritual and material needs of others before their own, Pope Francis said.
A Christian who chooses to be merciful experiences true life and has “eyes to see, ears to listen, and hands to comfort,” the pope said June 30 during a Year of Mercy audience in St. Peter’s Square.
“That which makes mercy alive is its constant dynamism to go out searching for the needy and the needs of those who are in spiritual or material hardship,” he said.
By being indifferent to the plight of the poor and suffering, the pope said, Christians turn into “hypocrites” and move toward a “spiritual lethargy that numbs the mind and makes life barren.”
“People who go through life, who walk in life without being aware of the needs of others, without seeing the many spiritual and material needs are people who do not live,” he said. “They are people who do not serve others. And remember this well: One who does not live to serve, serves nothing in life.”
Instead, he continued, those who have experienced the mercy of God in their own lives do not remain insensitive to the needs of others. Far from theoretical issues, the works of mercy are a “concrete witness” that compel Christians to “roll up their sleeves in order to ease suffering.”
Pope Francis also called on the faithful to remain vigilant and to focus on Christ present, especially in those suffering due to a globalized “culture of well-being.”
“Look at Jesus; look at Jesus in the hungry, in the prisoner, in the sick, in the naked, in the person who does not have a job to support his family. Look at Jesus in these brothers and sisters of ours. Look at Jesus in those who are alone, sad, in those who make a mistake and need advice, in those who need to embark on the path with him in silence so they may feel accompanied,” he said. “These are the works that Jesus asks of us. To look at Jesus in them, in these people. Why? Because Jesus also looks at me, looks at you, in that way.”
Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis recalled his visit to Armenia June 24-26, thanking the people of Armenia who, throughout their history, “have given witness to the Christian faith through martyrdom.”
While thanking Armenian Apostolic Catholics Karekin II for his hospitality, the pope stressed that in making the visit alongside the patriarch, he was reminding Catholics of the importance of strengthening bonds with other Christians as another way “of giving witness to the Gospel and being leaven for a more just and united society.”
The late June audience was the last one the pope was scheduled to hold before a reduced summer schedule. (Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.)